Three har­vests step to­ward com­mer­cial use for sea­wa­ter rice

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By XIE CHUANJIAO in Qing­dao, Shan­dong xiechuan­jiao@ chi­

Three ex­per­i­men­tal fields of sea­wa­ter rice were har­vested in China on Wed­nes­day, a fur­ther step to­ward its fu­ture com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity.

Also known as sa­line-al­kali tol­er­ant rice, sea­wa­ter rice is de­signed to grow in tidal flats or other ar­eas with heavy salt con­tent and has been de­vel­oped by plant-breed­ing ex­perts through cross­breed­ing and other tech­nolo­gies.

One type of sea­wa­ter rice grow­ing in Qing­dao’s Chengyang district, Shan­dong prov­ince, yielded 3.9 met­ric tons per hectare, ex­perts an­nounced.

Zhang Guodong, ex­ec­u­tive deputy di­rec­tor of the Qing­dao Sa­line-Al­kali Tol­er­ant Rice Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter, said the yield was from big pad­dies and could be im­proved.

“Once widely planted on a large scale, the yield could be much higher,” he said.

The Qing­dao cen­ter, led by renowned Chi­nese agri­cul­tural sci­en­tist Yuan Long­ping, was es­tab­lished three years ago.

It set it­self a three-year tar­get of de­vel­op­ing a salt-re­sis­tant rice strain ca­pa­ble of yield­ing 4.5 tons a hectare, which guar­an­tees grow­ers the min­i­mum ac­cept­able level of profit. The av­er­age rice yield in China is 6.75 tons a hectare.

Plant­ing in the ex­per­i­men­tal field in Chengyang district and five other plots of salin­eal­kali land started at the end of May. The five other plots were in Dongy­ing, Shan­dong prov­ince; Wen­zhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince; Yan’an, Shaanxi prov­ince; Kash­gar, in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion; and Daqing, Hei­longjiang prov­ince.

The sites rep­re­sent vir­tu­ally ev­ery type of sa­line-al­kali land in China and re­searchers aim to cul­ti­vate dif­fer­ent strains able to cope with dif­fer­ent cli­mate, salin­ity and soil struc­ture con­di­tions.

The test crops in Kash­gar and Daqing were also har­vested on Wed­nes­day.

In Kash­gar, the yield reached more than 7.5 tons per hectare, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts’ tests, much higher than ex­pected.

Zhang said the har­vest in Kash­gar was sat­is­fac­tory. “The re­sult means it is pos­si­ble to plant such salt-re­sis­tant rice in south­ern Xin­jiang in the fu­ture,” he said.

Wu Zhany­ong, an of­fi­cial from the Qing­dao cen­ter, said, “Xin­jiang has about 2 mil­lion hectares of sa­line-al­kali land that have the po­ten­tial to be planted with salt-re­sis­tant rice, and if it is widely planted it will sub­stan­tially im­prove rice pro­duc­tion in the re­gion.”

The sea­wa­ter rice strain grown in Daqing only yielded 3.1 tons per hectare. A live video clip on Shan­dong TV showed grow­ers ap­pear­ing a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed by the re­sult, as they hoped the ex­perts’ en­deavor would boost pro­duc­tion.

Mu Ping, a pro­fes­sor from Qing­dao Agri­cul­tural Uni­ver­sity who has worked in Daqing for months, said the wa­ter and soil con­di­tions at the site were not ideal, and the pH level was ex­tremely high.

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